Knowledge hub
Blogs
Mar 19, 2024

Agile Manifesto | Principle 8

In the forthcoming weeks, we are exploring one Agile Manifesto principle or value every Tuesday. This week, it's Principle 8's turn.

Principle 8

Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, team*, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

There are two aspects to this principle: Agility aims at a 1) constant and 2) sustainable pace of solution development.

Constant pace refers to the iterative & incremental approach of agile ways of working where value is delivered at every iteration (Principle 1). This is in contrast to focussing on a deadline that is often too far away in waterfall project management. Using the latter method, we may fall pray to the cone of uncertainty (cf. Principle 2). Given the uncertainty surrounded a point in time in the future, when a critical delivery is scheduled too far away we often start out with a casual approach to our work, including procrastination. That is because either we do not sense the urgency or we are afraid that a change along the way will render our work redundant. When the deadline is finally approaching we feel immense pressure and work crazy hours. While to some this kind of adrenaline-fuelled way of working may seem appealing, it can also have exhausting and demoralizing effects. In either case, binge-working can hardly be considered as sustainable.

Business Agility understands that the formula “Happy employees > Happy customers > Happy stakeholders” implies that losing employees due to consequences of forcing an unsustainable pace, such as burnout or quitting, is neither ethical nor beneficial for the business. High turnover rates may have a negative impact on the flow of tacit information and the motivation & loyalty of the remaining employees. This inhibits employee’s job performance (cf. Principle 5) and effective collaboration (cf. Principle 6).

In contrast, a steady and sustainable pace towards a common goal may be perceived as a satisfying and connecting experience, and may thereby increase employee motivation and decrease turnover intentions. A word of caution at this point: while an agile organisation is not set out to exploit their employees, self-exploitation may still occur due to the generally higher levels of autonomous motivation to perform well on the job. This is how employees at agile organisations are also not safe from burning out. We recommend agile leaders to be sensitive to this potential.

Deliver predictably

SAFe, the currently most popular scaled-agile method, puts emphasis on predictability to be a key in establishing trust between the business and its customers & stakeholders. While “predictability” may give the impression to contradict the premises of our VUCA world, it actually directly relates to the principle of working in a constant and sustainable pace. Predictability refers to the ability of an agile team to reliably estimate and deliver a consistent amount of work over an iteration. When a team is able to accurately predict and commit to a certain amount of work in each iteration, they are more likely to achieve a sustainable pace. This is because they can avoid overloading themselves with too much work, which can lead to burnout and decreased productivity. Conversely, they can also avoid undercommitting and underutilizing their capacity, which can lead to inefficiency. Therefore, by delivering predictably, organizations can enhance their ability to meet customer expectations and adapt to changing needs in a more efficient and effective manner.

Explore each principle & value with us

Introduction to the Agile Manifesto & Part 1 – The Agile Team: Skills & Culture

Principle 1: Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable solutions*.

Principle 2: Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.

Principle 3: Deliver working solution* frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.

Principle 4: Business people and team* must work together daily throughout the project.

Principle 5: Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.

Principle 6: The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within an agile team is real-time conversation.

Principle 7: Working solution* is the primary measure of progress.

Principle 8: Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, team*, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.

Principle 9: Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.

Principle 10: Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential.

Principle 11: The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.

Principle 12: At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. (soon)

Value 1: We value individuals and interactions over processes and tools. (soon)

Value 2: We value working solution* over comprehensive documentation. (soon)

Value 3: We value customer collaboration over contract negotiation. (soon)

Value 4: We value responding to change over following a plan. (soon)

*LEGEND:

Business Value: Business Value encompasses any deliverable, feature, or enhancement that directly contributes to customer satisfaction, employee well-being, or overall organizational success. It can encompass not only customer-facing elements but also internal enablers that improve efficiency and effectiveness within the organization.

Developers: has been exchanged by team to recognize that Agile Teams can encompass a diverse range of roles and functions beyond just software development

Iteration: An Iteration refers to a distinct phase or cycle within a development process, where a set of tasks or activities are completed in a defined timeframe. In Scrum methodology, an Iteration is known as a Sprint, typically lasting 2-4 weeks, during which a set of prioritized work items are completed.

Lead Time: Lead Time refers to the duration it takes for a task or project to move from the initial request or conception stage to its completion, including all necessary processes and steps.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product): The MVP is a basic, functional version of a product or service that includes essential features, allowing it to be deployed or released to gather early feedback from users or customers.

Software: has been replaced by solutions to account for the fact that Agility does not only apply to software development, but to any kind of value that a business offers to the customer.

Written by Julia Heuritsch, SAFe Practice Consultant & Agile Coach